Every January brings new inspiration for what we envision as our best lives. We resolve to make a positive change — to achieve our goals and make the New Year our greatest yet. However, New Year’s resolutions are difficult to keep. Whether life gets in the way or we simply lose steam, we can often end up drifting away from our goals.
That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Making major changes can be difficult. Even if you fall short of your goal, you can still achieve great progress. If you’re eager to make a New Year’s resolution that sticks, read on to learn the keys to self-motivation – you’ve got this!
Here are our top three tips for keeping your New Year’s resolutions.
Step 1: Limit the Scope of your New Year’s Resolutions
The number-one reason we don’t keep New Year’s resolutions is that they’re too broad or ambitious. For example, you may desire to “lose weight.” But if you don’t define what that means, it’s hard to know how to achieve it— or when you’ve succeeded!
A resolution is essentially a goal, and goals are more attainable when you have a clear purpose and definition for them. The SMART framework (PDF), developed by George T. Doran, describes how notions become objectives.
SMART stands for:
Specific: defined and limited in scope
Measurable: can be tracked with objective numbers
Attainable: can be achieved with current resources
Realistic: logistically possible with your available time and energy
Time-Related: can be completed by a certain date
Not all attributes make sense for every goal. It’s okay to work toward something without measuring it, for example. But New Year’s resolutions are often lost when you’re not being specific or realistic.
For example, if you resolve to “be healthier this year,” but forget to figure out how that looks or what you’ll do differently, that’s not specific enough. You may find yourself feeling instantly overwhelmed. Instead, break it down into specific resolutions and action items, such as “eat healthier meals” or “start taking pilates classes.”
Another example would be if you resolve to “eat healthy at every meal,” that may not be realistic. Let’s face it, sometimes we end up snacking or indulging in dessert! If you set an unrealistic goal to never enjoy yourself, you might be setting yourself up for failure and disappointment from the beginning. It’s better to set a more realistic goal for yourself, such as “cook at home 3 nights a week” or “get active 4 days a week.” Plus, these make for easier habits to track.
When you make your goals using the SMART framework, they are easier to achieve.
Step 2: Know the Motivation Behind Your New Year’s Resolutions: What’s Your Why?
Actors learn to find their character’s “motivation,” i.e., the experiences and desires that shape their behavior. You should do the same thing for your New Year’s resolutions. In other words, instead of simply following a script, ask yourself why you’re pursuing these goals.
Why do you want to “cook at home 3 nights a week” or “get active 4 days a week”? Do you want to lose weight? Reduce your risk of heart disease? And if so, what’s the deeper reason behind that desire? It could be something like:
“I want as many years as possible to spend with my loved ones.”
“I want to travel the world so I need to preserve my health.”
There’s no right or wrong answer. The key is to know the most heartfelt reason behind your goals. That makes New Year’s resolutions not so hard to keep and instead, aligned with your deepest aspirations.
Vague goals can often be why New Year’s resolutions are difficult to keep. Specific goals with a clear purpose are more achievable. You know what you can achieve, so you’re less worried about failure and any side effects. And when you “know your why,” you can draw upon those convictions to keep yourself on track.
Step 3. Find an Accountability Partner or Support System to Help Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions
Even if you clearly define your goals and motivation, it can still be challenging to stay on track. Most New Year’s resolutions are essentially habits and activities you want to do regularly. That often entails adjusting your schedule and potentially freeing up some time and money.
So, don’t rely on “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” If you want to work out 3 days a week, find a gym near you that’s convenient to visit. Otherwise, you may feel that it’s just too cumbersome to pursue your goals. Get the resources you need to support your New Year’s resolutions. You may need equipment, research time, and of course, people!
Share your resolutions with your friends and family, and ask about their ideal goals and habits to track. You can help each other stay on course and if you ever feel like abandoning your plan, they can remind you of your motivation. It’s helpful to have a trusted friend validate and support your healthy journey.
Perhaps one of your loved ones has a similar New Year’s resolution. If so, buddy up! You could attend cooking classes or head to the gym together to keep each other accountable.
Your accountability partners could mean the difference in whether you keep your New Year’s resolutions or not. Studies have indicated that people with both clear plans and peer support are most likely to achieve their goals.
Clear Goals and Community Support Will Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions
To stick to your New Year’s resolutions, set yourself up for success. Vague aspirations typically aren’t motivating enough. With a lack of peer support, it’s challenging to build the habits necessary to achieve your goals.
While we may not be able to support all your resolutions, OAK Health Club offers an empowering community and a variety of fitness classes. Find an accountability buddy or bring yours to OAK, plus get guidance on nutrition, the best workouts for your goals, and more!
If you are ready to learn how to start a workout routine, then OAK Health Club of Ashburn in Virginia is here to help. We offer personalized experiences through a combination of fitness, nutrition, recovery, and community. The result: you’ll feel healthy, capable, and empowered on your path to optimal health and wellness. Our Loudoun fitness club offers everything you need for success when you start a weight loss journey. Pick a membership offer or call us for more information at 1-571-462-6542. You’re always invited to schedule a tour and see what OAK Health Club has to offer!